Concurrent micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent in nonpregnant rural and tribal women from central India

Kavitha C Menon, Sheila A Skeaff, Christine D Thomson, Andrew R Gray, Elaine L Ferguson, Sanjay Zodpey, Abhay Saraf, Prabir Kumar Das, Gurudayal S Toteja, Chandrakant S Pandav
Nutrition 2011, 27 (4): 496-502

OBJECTIVE: The existence of concurrent micronutrient deficiencies in Indian women of reproductive age has received little attention. This study aimed to comprehensively assess the micronutrient status of nonpregnant rural and tribal women 18-30 y from central India.

METHODS: Participants (n = 109) were randomly selected using a stratified (rural-tribal) proportionate-to-population size cluster sampling method from 12 subcenters in Ramtek block, Nagpur. Sociodemographic, anthropometric, dietary, and biochemical data, including blood and urine samples, were obtained.

RESULTS: Tribal and rural women had similar sociodemographic characteristics and anthropometric status; 63% of women had a body mass index <18.5 kg/m(2). The median urinary iodine concentration was 215 μg/L (IQR: 127, 319). The mean (SD) concentration of hemoglobin, serum zinc, retinol, and folate was 112 (13) g/L, 10.8 (1.6) μmol/L, 1.2 (0.3) μmol/L, 18.4 (8.4) nmol/L, respectively, with a geometric mean serum vitamin B(12) concentration of 186 pmol/L. The percentage of women with low values for hemoglobin (<120 g/L), serum zinc (<10.7 μmol/L), vitamin B(12) (<148 pmol/L), retinol (<0.7 μmol/L), and folate (<6.8 nmol/L) was 66%, 52%, 34%, 4%, and 2%, respectively. Tribal women had a higher prevalence of zinc deficiency (58% versus 39%, P = 0.054) and concurrent deficiency of any two micronutrients (46% versus 26%; P = 0.034), including zinc and anemia (38% versus 21%, P = 0.024).

CONCLUSION: Zinc, vitamin B(12), and iron constitute the principal micronutrient deficiencies in these women. Existing supplementation programs should be extended to include 18- to 30-y-old nonpregnant women as the majority of childbearing occurs within this timeframe.

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